Mark Harvey didn’t want another head coaching job, nor an AFL milestone, but he’s getting both at the Brisbane Lions with the added irony of a showdown with his “wily old fox” of a mentor on Saturday night.
Harvey has been thrust into a battle of wits with his former Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy at the Gabba on Saturday night after being handed the Lions top post for the rest of the season.
On top of 206 games over 14 years as a player, the triple-premiership winner spent eight seasons as an assistant to Sheedy at the Bombers.
Harvey laughs at the irony of his return to head coaching, two years after his sudden Fremantle exit, but doesn’t expect Sheedy’s Greater Western Sydney catching Brisbane by surprise.
“He’s a wily old fox and I know all his tricks,” Harvey said.
“I hope he’s progressed in his coaching the last couple of years since we departed.
“Otherwise we’ll get a shock (on Saturday).”
Harvey rates Sheedy, retiring at the end of the season, along with Ron Barassi as the best coaching visionary the game has seen.
But he can boast a 1-0 record over the four-time premiership coach, leading the Dockers to a 63-point win over Essendon in just his fourth game in charge in 2007 – Sheedy’s last season at Windy Hill.
After coaching Fremantle for 97 games from 2007 to 2011, the next three rounds will see the reluctant Harvey bring up his century of senior games as a coach.
And that’s where his record will stay after confirming on Friday that he sees himself better suited to the strategy and list management role of a senior assistant coach.
But he’s determined to ensure the improving Lions emphatically respond to the axing of Michael Voss with a strong performance against the underdog Giants and end the year in style.
“That will be interesting and you don’t really know that until tomorrow night,” said Harvey.
“We’ve got to get on with the job now.
“The players have showed a lot of promise this year, and we have to finish it off now.”
Veteran ruckman Dean Brogan will line up for GWS among five changes to the side which was thumped by 113 points to Fremantle last week.